Father of pitch collapse player David Longhurst calls for screening

David Longhurst in his York City FC football kit
Image caption David Longhurst died on the pitch after suffering from heart failure

The moment Fabrice Muamba collapsed on Saturday brought back painful memories for Vic Longhurst, whose son David died after collapsing during a match more than 20 years ago.

Back in September 1990, his 25-year-old striker son had been playing in the game for York City against Lincoln City when he suddenly collapsed.

Mr Longhurst had the news broken to him after tuning in his car radio to hear the results of the match.

"They said a player had gone down," he said.

"We drove into this petrol station and while we were sitting there, I went to get the results of the match and the radio gave the information out.

"It was devastating."

The news was then confirmed to him by a member of the medical crew.

On Saturday, 23-year-old Bolton midfielder Muamba collapsed on the pitch at Tottenham's White Hart Lane during the FA Cup quarter-final.

Doctors have now said Muamba has shown signs of encouraging progress and has started breathing independently.

The cause of his cardiac arrest is not yet known.

Mr Longhurst's son, like Muamba, collapsed while standing alone.

"It was very similar," he said.

"There was no player contact. It was something you couldn't explain."

It was assumed by most people that David - who had previously played for Nottingham Forest, Halifax Town, Northampton Town and Peterborough United - had died from a heart attack.

However, his post-mortem examination revealed he had suffered from cardiomyopathy - a severe myocardial disease leading to heart failure.

Since his son's death, Mr Longhurst, who lives in Corby, Northamptonshire, has campaigned for more awareness of the condition and for sportspeople to make ultrasonic heart screening part of their routine health checks.

'Nothing showed up'

"It was a new thing then, but now - even though more is known about it - people are not being screened as they should be," said Mr Longhurst.

"David played for several clubs, many a time he had an examination but nothing showed up.

"You have got to have an ultrasonic scan for these things to show up."

Image caption Fabrice Muamba collapsed during Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final at White Hart Lane

Following Muamba's collapse, the Premier League has said it will review its medical procedures.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has been among those calling for Premier League players to be given two medical screenings each year.

Their calls have been echoed by the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young.

The charity offers screening for anyone between 16 and 34 and campaigns for the measures to be made more widely available.

"While most clubs will screen their players it is not law, like it is in Italy and the US," a spokesperson said.

"We try and work as closely as we can with clubs."

The charity's director of screening Dr Steve Cox said that in Italy, where screening is mandatory for all young people engaged in organised sport, the incidence of young sudden cardiac death had fallen "by 90%".

A spokesperson for the Football Association refused to give a detailed comment on the rules of screening but added that while the Premier League had standard rules, many clubs had their own health policies.

But for Mr Longhurst, extra measures cannot come quickly enough and said he understood the pain Muamba's loved ones had been through.

"Our thoughts are with Muamba's family," he said.

"It's a difficult time."

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